Friday, March 28, 2008

School Rules OK?

Our local swimming pool has three rules. Here they are:

1) Do not do anything dangerous.
2) Obey any instruction given to you by staff.
3) Enjoy yourself.

The third one isn't even a rule but just intended to create the right atmosphere.

Any school could manage with such a set of rules. Any pupil could understand them.

Alternatively our school had a rule "pupils may only wear flesh-coloured tights." One of our very few black pupils made a complete idiot of the head who tried to enforce that one!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

NUT conference 2008 The Easter miracle

I thoroughly enjoyed NUT conference. Bill Greenshields’ presidential address was inspiring with its emphasis on the class basis of British society and his more-or-less unflappable demeanour made for a well-organised conference. Sometimes his avuncular chairmanship put me in mind of an uncle from my youth, Joe I think his name was.

The way the conference worked, the Executive Priority motion meant most calls for action were ruled out of order. This gives the National Executive an enormous opportunity to display flexibility. With an apparent left numerical majority on the Exec (depending on how you calculate these things) they must prove to be our flexible friends and not the government’s.

On Sunday on the tram there was a lot of talk about the Jerry Glazier Easter Miracle where Jerry apparently saw the light on the road to Damascus and ended up agreeing with Martin Powell-Davies on the need to link action on class size, workload and pay together.

After the Classroom Teacher http:/ discussion on Sunday I look forward to April 24th and recruiting new activists from the first-time strikers who will be involved. The classroom teacher flyer will be available for people to download and print out

The WSTA delegation had a gender balance of 7:2 which reflects the gender balance of the union. Other delegations can do likewise and perhaps the National Executive too.

We recorded our thoughts on the conference blog from which you will see that two first-time delegates who are supply teachers were moved to see the consideration the union is giving to their plight.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Some people are gay. Get over it.

I started teaching in 1979 and I wouldn't have put up a poster like this then. I put one up in my room this week and all the comments have been positive. Some pupils were quoting it to each other as a criticism and a suggestion they might like to heed its advice.

Have some Madeira M'dear

This song is by Flanders and Swan and was very funny when they used to do it:

She was young, she was pure, she was new, she was nice
She was fair, she was sweet seventeen
He was old, he was vile, and no stranger to vice
He was base, he was bad, he was me!
He had slyly inveigled her up to his flat
To view his collection of stamps
And he said as he hastened to put out the cat
The wine, his cigar and the lamps

Have some madeira, m'dear
You really have nothing to fear
I'm not trying to tempt you, that wouldn't be right
You shouldn't drink spirits at this time of night

Have some madeira, m'dear
It's really much nicer than beer
I don't care for sherry, one cannot drink stout
And port is a wine I can well do without
It's simply a case of chacun a son gout
Have some madeira, m'dear

Unaware of the wiles of the snake-in-the-grass
And the fate of the maiden who topes
She lowered her standards by raising her glass
Her courage, her eyes and his hopes
She sipped it, she drank it, she drained it, she did
He quietly refilled it again
And he said as he secretly carved one more notch
On the butt of his gold-headed cane

Have some madeira, m'dear,
I've got a small cask of it here
And once it's been opened, you know it won't keep
Do drink it up, it will help you to sleep

Have some madeira, m'dear,
it's really an excellent year
Now if it were gin, you'd be wrong to say yes
The evil gin does would be hard to assess
Besides it's inclined to affect me prowess
Have some madeira, m'dear

Then there flashed through her mind what her mother had said
With her antepenultimate breath
"Oh my child, should you look on the wine when tis red
Be prepared for a fate worse than death"

She let go her glass with a shrill little cry
Crash! tinkle! it fell to the floor
When he asked, "What in Heaven?" she made no reply
Up her mind, and a dash for the door

Have some madeira, m'dear,
rang out down the hall loud and clear
A tremulous cry that was filled with despair
As she paused to take breath in the cool midnight air
Have some madeira, m'dear,
the words seemed to ring in her ear

Until the next morning, she woke up in bed
With a smile on her lips and an ache in her head
And a beard in her ear 'ole that tickled and said
Have some madeira, m'dear

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Supply Teachers - shock troops of education

I received a letter from my MP the other day in which he put forward the basic argument that allowing “flexibility” in the employment of agency staff made it possible for agencies to provide employment and any restriction of their “flexibility” would lead to a reduction in employment prospects.

I was inclined to ask this Tory MP, “what are you, New Labour?” because you couldn’t put a Rizla between the policies of the bosses’ parties on this issue.

It is of course a downright lie that paying people less and taking away their entitlement to pension benefits leads to more employment. What it does do is to keep the private agencies afloat. Without them schools would need some system of Local Authority supply lists. This is a system that was sacrificed on the altar of privatisation.

The conference motion on supply teachers contains the line “calls on the executive to campaign vigorously”. Yet this motion stands in the name of the executive! On those grounds alone it deserves your full support. The prospect of the executive trying to galvanise themselves is to be welcomed.

For many teachers supply teaching has been a way of reducing their timetable prior to retirement now that early retirement has become virtually unobtainable and retirement on the grounds of ill health is virtually impossible unless you are actually dead.

Paradoxically, supply teachers are often the shock troops of education, sent in to hold the line when nobody else can. Have you ever covered a class and found out within five minutes exactly why the usual teacher is off with stress-related illness? Supply teachers do this all the time.

And yet they are criminally underpaid and denied their pension rights in the name of “flexibility”. If they are not directly employed by a school the agencies will not pay a penny towards their CPD and they have to rely on their own resources to keep abreast of developments in education. The only people who provide free CPD for supply teachers are the NUT.

Whether the National Executive campaigns “vigorously” or in their more usual
less-than-vigorous manner, we need to fight for supply teachers. School reps can make their colleagues aware of the injustice affecting people who work at their side. The fat cats in agencies pay them less, rob them of pensions and pocket the difference.

It will help all of us in the fight against the creeping privatisation of education

If you want to help galvanise the executive contact